AIM-listed marketing services group Optimisa plc today finalised the acquisition of eq group – a leading marketing research and strategy group also quoted on AIM - for 72 pence per share, valuing eq at £6.4 million.
The acquisition of eq complements Optimisa’s existing activities in the fields of market research, strategy development and data analysis and allows for significant operational and financial synergies.
Optimisa has a stated policy to make acquisitions which will be earnings enhancing in their first full financial year of ownership.
Acquisition is in line with Optimisa’s strategy of growth through acquisitions and organic growth within its subsidiary companies.
Reported turnover for eq group for the six month period ended 30 June 2007 was £5.9 million, up 18% on the previous year.
Today Optimisa plc (optimisaplc.com), an AIM-listed marketing services group, announced it had finalised the acquisition of eq group plc, another AIM-listed group comprising Quaestor, Buckingham Research and Summit Studios. In September Optimisa entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of eq group for 72 pence per share. The offer was funded through a conditional placing by Optimisa of 600,000 Placing Shares at 1300p per Placing Share to raise £7.8 million (before expenses).
Rationale for the Acquisition
The Optimisa Directors consider that eq’s two established quantitative and qualitative research companies, Quaestor and Buckingham Research Associates, will complement the existing Optimisa Group capabilities. The Board of Optimisa also believes that there are significant operational and financial synergies to be obtained from the Acquisition, including:
· The opportunity to cross-sell existing Optimisa Group services to the eq group's clients and vice versa;
· More efficient use of the internal resources of the enlarged Optimisa Group to fulfil projects;
· Lower central costs as a result of the elimination of duplicate costs in eq and Optimisa;
· Benefits to the eq group from the investment Optimisa has made in group infrastructure;
The Board of Optimisa believes that the combined group will benefit from an enlarged client list and will have a stronger operational base in the United Kingdom to meet its clients’ business requirements on a national and international basis.
Commenting on the deal, Simon Dannatt, CEO of Optimisa stated "Our mission is to become the leading commercial marketing business in the UK and acquiring industry-leaders is key to achieving that ambition. We have long been aware of eq group’s extensive capabilities and reputation and are therefore incredibly pleased to welcome them to Optimisa. There is a highly complementary alignment between their skills and ours – this offers significant opportunities for us to provide our combined client bases a broader, more integrated, and therefore more valuable approach to solving their marketing problems through using best-of-breed solutions. We want to combine the forces of the two groups to create something bigger and better for our clients – combining customer, market and competitor insights to provide truly commercial marketing advice."
About Optimisa plc
Optimisa plc is a marketing services group providing marketing consultancy and research to its clients. The focus is on strategy consultancy based on market research and business and market intelligence. Optimisa currently owns four brands: kae: marketing intelligence, nxtMOVE, Andrew Irving Associates and Report International Limited. The most significant acquisition made to date was the reverse takeover of kae: marketing intelligence in May 2005. Optimisa most recently acquired Report International in May 2007. Optimisa has a principally blue chip client base with a strong presence in the financial services, telecommunications, media and technology sectors.
On 21 August 2007, Optimisa announced its interim results for the six month period ended 30 June 2007:
· Turnover increased 68% from £2.8 million to £4.7 million;
· Gross profit increased 60% from £2.2 million to £3.5 million;
· Pre tax profit increased from £415,000 to £780,000;
· Fully diluted EPS rose 61% from 45.3 pence to 72.8 pence;
· Shareholders funds stood at £4.9m including a net cash position of £1.4 million; and
· Interim dividend of 10 pence (7.5 pence for the same period in 2006)
About eq group plc
eq was formed in 2000 to acquire controlling interests in established businesses that had been early adopters of, or which were capable of adopting, internet technology. Led by Bob Bond, eq raised £3 million by way of a placing and offer for subscription and was admitted to trading on AIM on 19 May 2000. It initially made two internet technology-based acquisitions, both of which were subsequently disposed of and having experienced the downturn in the technology market during 2000, the eq Directors took a decision to focus on market intelligence related businesses. eq made its first acquisition in this area in December 2001, with the purchase of Buckingham Research, a market research consultancy providing a wide range of research and data modelling solutions. This was followed in December 2002 with the acquisition of Quaestor, a business specialising in qualitative analysis and advice on marketing strategy.
Group turnover and adjusted operating profits increased year on year from flotation until 2005. In 2006, trading conditions became more challenging and on 2 June 2006, eq issued an announcement stating that delays in the timing of client activities were expected to have a significant impact on performance in the first half of the year and consequently that full year results were expected to be significantly below market expectations. In February 2007, eq acquired Summit Studios, which provides viewing facilities and related services to the market research industry. On 14 May 2007, the Board of eq announced that it was undertaking a strategic review of the business with a view to realising shareholder value in the short to medium term. A variety of options were considered, including the possibility of a trade sale and in this regard a small number of potential trade buyers were approached at that time.
On 23 August 2007 eq announced improved interim results for the six month period ended 30 June 2007:
· Turnover increased by 18% from £5.0 million to £5.9 million;
· Adjusted operating profit before exceptional items and amortisation of intangible assets increased by 43% to £720,000 from £504,000;
· Adjusted basic earnings per share before exceptional items and amortisation of intangible assets increased by 50% to 3.9p from 2.6p;